We have a whole lot of news to share with you this week, so grab a cup of coffee and settle in!
First off, it has come to light that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection's Acting Commissioner Loyzim determined that CMP's recent 700 page "minor revision" to the NECEC permit was not of statewide significance, and therefore doesn't warrant scrutiny by the Board or the people of Maine. This determination was made because, according to the Commissioner, NECEC's "minor revision" hasn't come under significant public scrutiny. But the public was never made aware of the requested amendment!
#1 - EMAIL THE Board of Environmental Protection
So this week, we’re asking our activists to email the Board of Environmental Protection TODAY, ahead of their February 18 meeting, to voice your opposition to the so-called “minor revision” and explain to them that this project is of statewide significance.
Some points to keep in mind:
- More than 100,000 signatures were recently turned in to trigger a statewide vote on the project. Signatures came from more than 500 Maine communities.
- During the hearing on the original permit, DEP heard from 2,283 Mainers who testified in opposition to the project to only 11 in support.
- The "minor revision" application includes an entirely new set of maps with new information about impacts to rare threatened and endangered species and rare plant areas that were not provided during the original hearings. It also proposes a reroute near the Bowman Airfield. Impacts on these lands and wetlands must be assessed according to NRPA, Site Law and the Department's own rules.
- Trying to classify such a major change to the permit as "minor" is yet another attempt by CMP to ram this project through behind closed doors and without the input of Mainers.
It’s important that the Board hear from as many concerned Mainers as possible, so please drop them an email today and help us spread the word. Mainers have the right to an open and transparent permitting process on this incredibly destructive and unnecessary for-profit project.
#2 - Sign our Online BEP Petition!
In addition to submitting written testimony to the BEP, please also sign our online petition!
#3 - Attend the BEP meeting by Zoom
Attend the Board of Environmental Protection meeting on Thursday, 2/18 at 9am via Zoom. Let’s fill up the ‘room’ with a strong showing of grassroots members from across the state so they can see we are committed to full transparency and a review of the 700 page “minor revision”. We need to create a strong visual presence at this virtual meeting. Wear your No CMP Corridor swag, make a sign and listen in!
Who: Board of Environmental Protection
What: Zoom meeting regarding CMP’s 700 page “minor revision” to their DEP permit
When: Thursday, February 18 at 9:00 AM
Where: On Zoom: Meeting ID: 692 850 1126, Passcode: 4gWhZz or by phone:
877 853 5247 US Toll-free Meeting ID: 692 850 1126, Passcode: 110856
In other news, the Maine Public Utilities Commission decided this week to open a three-pronged investigation into CMP’s recent solar debacle, which threatened hundreds of millions of dollars worth of renewable energy investment in our state. Conveniently, the day after Governor Mills called for the investigation, CMP found so-called “solutions” and company leadership passed the buck, showing a stunning lack of leadership, by placing blame on the mid-level engineers in their employ.
First Featured Story of the Week
Under fire for angering the state’s solar energy industry, Central Maine Power Co. blamed the situation on a failure to run its engineers’ cost estimates up the corporate chain.
David Flanagan, the company’s executive chairman, told state lawmakers Thursday that multimillion-dollar cost estimates for needed grid upgrades were issued to solar developers by midlevel engineers who didn’t run their numbers past senior engineers or company managers.
Flanagan told a legislative committee that the initial estimates of the amount and cost of work needed to allow the substations to accept power generated by solar projects were “simply not a practical solution,” and CMP has since said the costs have been adjusted downward.
Regardless of how you feel about solar farms, this controversy highlights that:
1) CMP hasn’t properly maintained their existing infrastructure in Maine, or planned for the 21st century.
2) Their years-long crusade to force the unpopular NECEC project shifted their focus away from serving Maine customers.
3) They cannot be trusted with a project of the scope and size of NECEC considering they can’t seem to get their act together.
4) Regardless of what their ads say, they continue to be a hindrance to the expansion of in-state clean energy.
Second Featured Story of the Week
Maine’s largest utility has found itself triaging its reputation again after a major mistake on solar projects. It took only a week for Central Maine Power to back down from assertions that solar project developers would be facing a longer and more pricey grid connection process. But the mistrust has already been sown among renewable energy advocates and both lawmakers and regulators have pounced on the misfire…
All of this has animated the political fight against the western Maine corridor, which the utility has recently begun construction on despite a partial injunction. There are other legal challenges afloat as well as opponents have submitted roughly 100,000 signatures in a second attempt to get a question on the statewide ballot aiming to overturn the project.
We will know soon if the question will go to voters and any effort will be subject to a potential court challenge. With CMP and corridor opponents heavily invested to the tune of tens of millions in that political fight, any other distractions for the utility may be particularly damaging. It magnifies the solar snafu and makes the problem all the more head-scratching.
Read the full Daily Brief here.
Update on DOE / Presidential Permit
In other very important news, it seems the Biden administration has decided to review Trump’s hasty last-minute decision to issue the Presidential Permit as part of the day one executive order!
Third Featured Story of the Week
Last-Minute Approval of a Controversial Transmission Line Through Maine Wilderness
In Trump’s last days of office, his minions approved a presidential permit for a $1 billion energy project. The world’s third-largest utility benefits from what erroneously is portrayed as a clean energy project to bring electricity from Canada to Massachusetts.
The Biden White House advised DCReport on Feb. 11 that this permit “is one of the policies under review by President Biden’s day 1 executive order to review certain climate policies from the Trump admin.”
Action Item #4
Call the White House at 202-456-1111 to let President Joe Biden know your thoughts about the transmission line. You can also contact the White House online.
With so many irons in the fire, it’s no wonder CMP has decided to prematurely begin construction. While their ads convey an air of finality, the truth is that CMP is terrified that this for-profit corridor project is in real danger. With a grassroots army like ours, they are right to be afraid because we will not stop until this project is defeated!
Letter of the Week
By John Nicholas of Winthrop
Over the last 2 ½ years, John Nicholas of Winthrop hasn’t missed an opportunity to set the record straight about CMP’s misleading information and NECEC’s negative impacts. He’s been with us since the beginning of our effort by providing sworn testimonies and educating Mainers through his insightful letters across Maine’s newspapers. Thanks John!
His most recent letter once again, hits the nail on the head! Read below.
Inaccurate and misleading information from CMP/Avangrid/Iberdrola has been the hallmark of their campaign to promote the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) project. For example, CMP/Avangrid/Iberdrola claimed that the NECEC project would create hundreds of permanent jobs when the official record with the Maine Public Utilities Commission shows only 38 permanent jobs after construction.
A recent ad from CMP/Avangrid/Iberdrola now claims that all of the 1,600 temporary jobs that will exist during the two-year construction period will be filled by Maine workers. That claim contradicts the official record, public comment and sworn testimony from officials representing CMP/Avangrid/Iberdrola. At the public hearing before the PUC in Farmington on Sept. 14, 2018, a spokesperson for CMP/Avangrid/Iberdrola stated that the 1,600 temporary jobs would be filled by out-of-state workers. He later qualified that comment by stating that CMP/Avangrid/Iberdrola would give priority to Maine workers wherever possible based on qualifications.
Honesty is the best policy. CMP/Avangrid/Iberdrola should adopt that guiding principle in the debate about the NECEC project.
Activists of the Week
This week, we’d like to recognize the dynamic duo, Kasey and Jesse Lupo, of Etna. The Lupos are also land abutters to the corridor in the Moxie area and are deeply connected to western Maine’s natural resources. The Lupos have provided their business, Mossy Ledge Spirits, as a hub for our No CMP Corridor and Say NO to NECEC effort by serving as a signature and notary location for both referendums and by donating their goods to Say No to NECEC’s fundraising auctions. In addition, they are part of a small group of citizen intervenors in the Public Lands lawsuit contesting the permit CMP obtained for NECEC illegally. And, like so many of our grassroots members, the Lupos have written letters, driven all across the state to provide testimony, and continue to educate Mainers about the region we so wish to protect. Thanks to the Lupos for keeping up the positivity, focus, and drive that this ongoing effort requires.
Save the Date
As you can tell, this has been a big week for our cause, and there are many moving parts, so please plan to join us for our next campaign update on February 24 at 8pm via Zoom (register by clicking here) and on Facebook at facebook.com/NoCMPCorridor.
Donate by mail: Check made payable to No CMP Corridor sent to PO Box 471 Farmington, ME 04398
Secure online: Donate at www.NoCMPCorridor.com/donate
To stay up to date and receive text message alerts, text NOCMP to 474747.
If you'd like to join our echo chamber to share our social media posts at a moments notice, text Echo to 474747.
Thank you all and please enjoy the rest of your weekend!